Euro 2012 boycott 'completely inappropriate': Poland
(WARSAW) - Poland's President Bronislaw Komorowski Wednesday termed "completely inappropriate" calls for a boycott of Euro 2012 in Ukraine over its treatment of jailed ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is among a slew of Western European leaders who may not attend the football championships over allegations that Tymoshenko, now on hunger strike, was beaten in custody.
European Union member Poland is co-hosting the sporting showcase along with neighbouring Ukraine, which is not part of the 27-nation bloc.
"In my opinion, calls for a boycott are completely inappropriate in terms of the current situation in Ukraine," Komorowski told Poland's public broadcaster TVP1.
"The Olympic games were boycotted only twice in history -- in Moscow and Beijing," Komorowski added, referring to the decision by some Western nations to shun the 1980 games over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and similar concerns at the 2008 games sparked by China's crackdown on Tibetan rights protestors.
"This was done in the context of the war Russia declared on Afghanistan and the bloody suppression of Tibetan freedom seekers -- blood was spilt, there were mass arrests, jailings," noted Komorowski, himself a Polish communist-era dissident.
"This isn't the situation in Ukraine," he said, adding, "We're all well aware of it, so there must be some other kinds of calculations at play."
Germany's Merkel said Wednesday she will decide whether to attend matches in Ukraine at the last minute, as the boycott movement swells.
Ukraine has come under intense pressure amid mounting concern for 2004 Orange Revolution leader Tymoshenko, who was jailed for seven years in October in a highly controversial case that immediately damaged Kiev's ties with the European Union.
Tymoshenko, 51, launched a hunger strike on April 20 to protest an alleged beating she received in prison.
German media had earlier reported that Merkel is preparing to instruct her ministers to stay away from the football tournament.
The Austrian government said Wednesday it would boycott all Euro 2012 football matches in Ukraine after the country's chancellor already announced a similar move.
European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso has "no intention" of travelling to Ukraine, his office has said, following a similar decision by EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding.
Text and Picture Copyright 2012 AFP. All other Copyright 2012 EUbusiness Ltd. All rights reserved. This material is intended solely for personal use. Any other reproduction, publication or redistribution of this material without the written agreement of the copyright owner is strictly forbidden and any breach of copyright will be considered actionable.